February 15, 2005

SCRS chatboards

The Student Counseling and Resource Service (SCRS) recently unveiled two new discussion boards specifically for community members to confidentially discuss two sensitive issues: eating disorders and academic difficulties.

Elizabeth Steinhauer, a staff psychiatrist at SCRS and the monitor of the eating disorders website, hopes "that [the eating disorders board] will offer a source of support for people in the community who are struggling with eating and body image in a safe and confidential environment."

That board, which has been running since late December, is open to a range of people, including those suffering from anorexia, bulimia, overeating, or general concerns about their bodies. Steinhauer added that anyone worried about friends or family with eating disorders is welcome to post as well.

Steinhauer also said, contrary to what the message board specifies, that the site is open to anyone with a uchicago e-mail address┬Śnot just students.

Though Steinhauer will monitor the board on a weekly basis, she emphasized that it is intended for community discussion, rather than solely answers from a psychiatrist.

The Academic Skills Assessment Program (ASAP) discussion board will cater to "any students who have questions regarding academic issues," said Sheryl Wandler, a clinical social worker at SCRS.

Though Wandler will also be monitoring her board once a week, she primarily wants students to help each other in academic areas like time management, reading skills, procrastination, and concentration.

Since the ASAP board has only been up since early January, it has not yet received any traffic, though the eating disorders board only has two hits apart from Steinhauer's. Wandler is considering sending out an e-mail to all undergraduates to publicize the site.

Part of the inspiration for the discussion boards comes from a website belonging to Robert Hsiung, a SCRS psychiatrist, which is not officially connected to the University.

Hsiung sees value in letting patients aid and support each other on discussion boards. "I think it helps because they know a lot and know what it's like to be in each other's shoes," Hsiung said. "They get a lot of information from each other."

Both SCRS forums can be accessed through the website. Under the "Announcements" headline is a link for the discussion boards. Instructions for logging in are available on the forum page. If students wish to make a post, they should use an alias to preserve their confidentiality.